South Korean energy company GS Caltex is seeking to diversify its business portfolio with the completion of a new olefin production facility worth 2.7 trillion won ($2.01 billion) in Yeosu, South Jeolla Province.
On Friday, the company held a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the facilities, with its top brass, including CEO Hur Sae-hong, in attendance.
Olefin, a linchpin element in the petrochemical business, is used as a basic material for plastic, synthetic fiber and synthetic rubber.
The newly-built factory will be responsible for GS Caltex's production of various olefin-based products -- including annual production of 750,000 tons of ethylene, a basic raw material for plastics and polyester, 500,000 tons of polyethylene, a raw material for vinyl and plastic containers and 410,000 tons of propylene, material used for automobile equipment.
It will further be responsible for the annual production of some 240,000 tons of mixed C4 fractions, main materials for synthetic rubber and tires, and 410,000 tons of pyrolysis gasoline, materials used in making benzenes.
The new olefin production facility is also named as mixed feed cracker, or, in short, MFC, for its capability to utilize various by-product gases such as liquified natural gas as its main feedstock.
Currently, most petrochemical plants in Korea use naphtha -- oil obtained by the dry distillation of organic substances such as coal, shale, or petroleum -- as its main feedstock.
However, according to GS Caltex, MFCs can utilize other feedstocks including naphtha to supply and fuel their plant, thus cutting costs and reducing the plant's usage of energy by 10 percent.
MFC also produces higher amount of hydrogen than preexisting petrochemical plants, by employing feedstocks other than naphtha, according to the company.
The completion of the MFC follows GS Caltex's aim to diversify its business, which is mainly centered on oil refinery, as profits for oil refinery businesses fluctuated rapidly the past year due to external factors such as international oil prices.
"The completion of the MFC plant will mark an important turning point in diversifying our business portfolio, as we aim to increase our proportion of non-refinery business," said Hur Sae-hong, president of GS Caltex.
"GS Caltex will become a total energy company which encompasses petrochemicals, eco-friendly energy and recycling of resources, in addition to its oil refinery business," he added.